Burnt orange lichen dusts grey boulders. Lucid blue waters lap at the sweeping shoreline. And squeaky, bone-white sands are backed by dense, deep green heathlands. The Bay of Fires represents Tassie at its wildest and windswept best: ruggedly handsome and ripe for exploring.
Stretching for more than 50 kilometres, you likely won’t have to venture far to enjoy a slice of the Bay of Fires coastline all to yourself. Jump in for a swim, inspect a rockpool or two, take a cruise along the coast on a custom-built RIB boat tour, pitch up a tent in one of the conservation area’s campsites, or maybe even commit to an immersive, eco-luxury three-day walking tour of this beautiful coastal pocket.
The region is also heaven for seafood lovers, with a healthy smattering of oyster farms, bayside fish and chip shops, and restaurants serious about shellfish.
Routinely rated as one of the planet’s best beaches, visiting Binalong Bay is a non-negotiable part of any trip to the Bay of Fires. It’s the perfect place for a leisurely stroll, and fortunate souls may even chance upon pods of dolphins, humpback and southern right whales, or local birds.
A friendly, boutique, family-run winery with a cosy cellar door in an old timber sheep shearing shed, Priory Ridge is located just a 15-minute drive inland from Binalong Bay. Owners Julie and David make pinot noir and a number of whites, with tastings offered on a donations-only basis.
Famed across the country for its cheddar, Pyengana Dairy’s farmgate cafe is definitely worth the 25-minute drive from St Helens. Relax on the cafe’s deck, overlooking the hilly pastoral landscapes where the very cows responsible for the dairy’s farmhouse cheeses graze, and devour a gourmet cheese platter with a glass of Tassie wine or beer. Between September and May, you can also see the cheesemakers at work.
Admire the Bay of Fires from every angle by getting out on the water, or into a 4WD. Bay of Fires Eco Tours offers three different excursions that take in the coastline and its resident wildlife, or take one of Tas4x4Tours’ customisable full- or half-day trips.
The main Bay of Fires’ accommodation options are situated in either the town of St Helens or Binalong Bay.
Overlooking the calm waters of Georges Bay in St Helens, the NRMA St Helens Waterfront Holiday Park is a crowd-pleaser. Enjoy a number of on-site facilities, from a well-maintained and well-equipped camp kitchen to a recreation room, barbecue areas, a playground, and a bar/restaurant that heroes Tassie fare. It has pet-friendly sites too.
The Bay of Fires Conservation Area offers free beach-side camping, with eight different sites to choose from, on a first-come-first-served basis. Each site had different facilities, and many promise close-up views of the beach and beautiful Binalong Bay.
For clean and comfortable surrounds with a homely touch book into Tully Cottage B&B in St Helens. Those in the market for something a little more exclusive should try one of the local holiday homes. Tranquility Bay of Fires has sensational, unobstructed views over the beach and bay and sleeps six, and award-winning Holland House offers lashings of boutique style, stellar vistas, and sleeps up to five.
You’d be hard pressed to find a more considered and luxurious glamping getaway than Bay of Fires Bush Retreat. Located in the Binalong Bay area, this upscale set-up offers bell tents equipped with king-sized beds, heaters, electric blankets, woollen throws and hot water bottles. There’s also an impressive camp kitchen with large communal dining tables, as well as fire pits, rain showers and gourmet pre-prepared meals available that cater to a range of dietary needs.
While Tassie is revered for its wine and produce, the remoteness of the Bay of Fires locality means that options aren’t as plentiful as you may have come to expect in other parts of the Apple Isle, and some close down completely over winter, so it pays to check in advance.
Binnalong Bay’s Meresta Eatery is a local standout. The restaurant’s wood-fired pizzas win rave reviews, but there’s plenty more on offer; think Cape Grim minute steaks, house-cured gin and pepperberry ocean trout, or a Tasmanian cheese platter.
When only fine dining will do, reserve a table at St Helens’ Furneaux Restaurant & Comptoir, a French-inspired Modern Australian restaurant. The international team of chefs pays immaculate attention to detail with its seafood-leaning menu.
Oyster fans should save Lease 65, on Binalong Bay Road, to their Google Maps. This oyster farm sells the freshest, plumpest molluscs direct to the public. There’s no cafe or dining area, just take your dozen straight down to the beach and slurp away.
From creamy chowder to fish burgers, battered squid rings or good old-fashioned fish and chips, you can’t beat a hearty meal from Skippers in St Helens.
For indulgent street food, a solid craft beer line-up, a beer garden, and some eclectically designed spaces, head for The Social Tasmania, also in St Helens.
The Bay of Fires is approximately a four-hour drive from Hobart, or a three-hour drive from Launceston. While you could easily hop there on a day trip from either city, tying in a visit to the Bay of Fires with a wider road trip along Tassie’s wild east coast is a smart move. The Bay of Fires coastline extends from Binalong Bay in the south to Eddystone Point in the north.
While the Bay of Fires is spectacular (and popular) year-round, visiting outside of the winter season means you’ll have more options for everything from touring to dining, as some businesses close over the colder months. For most people, timing your visit to coincide with summer also means a higher likelihood of a dip in the crystalline waters.
Travellers with time to spare, and a penchant for the great outdoors, should consider the Bay of Fires Lodge Walk, a three- or four-day endeavour that includes all guiding, smart (and exclusive-use) accommodation, plus all food and drink.
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